Decks are a simply wonderful place to relax and take in your surroundings, but unfortunately, if your deck sits up more than 30 inches off the ground, you also have a deck railing that’s competing with that wonderful view. One option for keeping your deck safe while making that railing a whole lot less obtrusive is CableRail, a deck railing system that’s both attractive and easy for the do-it-yourselfer to handle.
CableRail replaces traditional wooden rail members with 1/8-inch diameter high-strength, weather-resistant stainless steel cable. The cables are strung horizontally through a series of intermediate vertical wooden or metal posts, which allows you a lot of flexibility in the design and installation of your deck rail system.
The first step in installing the system is to install the intermediate vertical posts. These may be standard wooden 4x4s, square or round steel or aluminum tubing, or other combinations, and need to be installed no more than three feet apart in order to give adequate support to the cables. Your dealer will provide you with complete information on the layout and installation of the posts, as well as selection and ordering of all the necessary railing components.
After the posts are up, the next step is the tedious one. Each of the posts needs to be marked and drilled to accept the cables, and you need to take your time with layout and drilling to ensure a clean and accurate installation. You can measure from the top or bottom of the post, but you need to be consistent and measure from the same starting point on each post. To speed the process and help ensure accuracy, you might want to make a story pole–a piece of scrap lumber that is accurately marked with the center point of each hole, and that you can use on each post to lay out your holes.
It’s a good idea to take the additional time to mark your hole layouts on both sides of the post. Drill in from each side, and your holes will be much more level and your drill bit won’t tear out the wood on the opposite side of the post as it exits.
At one end of the cable is a threaded terminal end, and that is passed through the first end post. Secure each terminal end with the provided washers and lock nuts. Next, lace each cable through the intermediate holes until you reach the end post where the cable run will terminate.
At the end post, another special fitting called a Quick-Connect is slipped over the end of the cable. Slip the Quick-Connect into the hole in the post, then pull on the end of the cable to remove slack–the fitting grips the cable and automatically locks onto it and holds it in place when you release the cable.
Next, tension the cable by turning the nuts on the threaded terminal end fittings. After the cable has been tensioned and the lock nuts secured, you can cut off the excess threaded portion of the terminal end using a hacksaw or reciprocating saw. At the other end, use a cable cutter to cut off the excess cable that’s protruding from the Quick-Connect fitting.
To finish everything off, you can use an electric grinder to grind the cut cable ends flush with the fittings, then snap the provided vinyl caps over the ends of the fittings to give a clean appearance and to protect the fitting ends. The caps can be removed and the nuts tightened further should additional tensioning be required in the future.
Before undertaking any installation such as this, you need to check with your local building department for information on any local codes or ordinances that may come into play, and also check with your local homeowner’s association. Building permits are typically required for deck railing assemblies of any type.
CableRail systems can be ordered through many home centers and larger lumber yards, or you can locate a dealer by calling them at 800-888-2418, or checking their Web site at www.cablerail.com.
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